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Solar PV materials market to reach US$12.8bn by 2014

The market for solar photovoltaic (PV) materials will have grown 50% in four years, according to GTM Research.

By Isabella Kaminski

GTM Research’s latest solar industry report, PV Bill of Materials Outlook 2010-2015, predicts the supply and demand, and cost of the materials involved in making solar PV modules: glass, pastes/screens, junction boxes/cables, encapsulants, frames, gases/chemicals, backsheets, ribbons and thin-film feedstock.

By 2014, it estimates that the market for each of these materials could be worth at least US$1 billion and that the overall market (excluding polysilicon feedstock), will have grown by 50% of its 2010 value to US$12.8bn.

According to GTM Research, this growth will be based on scaling solar PV module production globally and a stronger focus from material vendors on developing better relationships with module producers through customised solutions and optimised fab placements.

Shyam Mehta, GTM Research Senior Analyst, says: "Until now, the solar market has primarily focused on polysilicon as the major PV material since it represented the bulk of module costs. But with cost declines in polysilicon leveling out, there is a growing emphasis on the collective PV materials market as a vehicle for further declines."

The report forecasts that cumulative solar PV material costs will drop by 15% by 2014. The glass, paste/screen and frame sectors will be the best opportunities, because they have already begun to attract new market entrants and technological innovation as module producers look to form stronger ties with these specialised vendors.

The fastest-growing solar PV material markets will be for CdTe and CIGS feedstock, according to GTM Research, which will grow at annualised rates of 32% and 45% respectively, due to increases in the price of tellurium and indium.

The report concludes that solar PV materials suppliers will have to work with capital equipment vendors and component producers to reduce costs.

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Photovoltaics (PV)  •  Solar electricity